Cats, Puppies and Goldfish: You are Doing This!

This morning I was able to watch a class google hangout and what I saw completely blew me away. Two teachers put aside their learning agenda to engage in the insanity of the moment and to express their love and care for the kids first. They were joking with the kids, smiling and were so obviously happy to see them while the children were just as happy to see the teachers and their fellow classmates. I am so grateful that these dedicated teachers were willing to put their hearts out there for their kids even in an incredibly new landscape of learning.

The teachers kept relationships at the forefront while students navigated Google hangouts for the first time, put their cats on camera, showed their dog giving birth in real time, and introduced the class to their goldfish, all while holding younger siblings and chatting about The Lion King to the side. They exemplified patience, tolerance and modelled to everyone that they were also learning and were not sure about all the answers but were willing to engage with their students to figure it all out. This is similar to many classrooms we have seen and heard about across the province right now. This is our new normal.

This experience has made me ponder on the value and importance that relationships have on engaging on the educational journey with our students. How do you put your heart out there and maintain your composure while you are dealing with unprecedented times? Wouldn’t it be easier if this was preplanned, if there were classes piloting this, if our kids were all in stable places? It is the relationships you have built that will see everyone through this. The courage you show every time you get on camera unable to control the classroom environment, the courage you show and your willingness to become a student along with your own students and make your journey visible to them and also to a greater audience, all speak to the value you put on relationships with your kids.

As an educator, I put myself in the shoes of these teachers and only begin to reflect on what is going on in their heads and minds. I imagined that behind the scenes there were issues with technology not working, children learning how to use technology, how they were managing their own kids while teaching, and shifting best practice to a new delivery system. And then there’s the worry about not meeting the needs of all the kids, worry about the kids who are not getting fed or are in unsafe places, worry about kids who are not getting the required support they need in person, worry about the collapse of the community you have worked to build, worry about your unemployed colleagues who have been your partners up until now. Not to mention, the amount of work that has been presented to you and turned your world around in a very brief amount of time.

You have all these things on your mind and with a fast turn around and yet you are doing this! It is happening right now with little to no time to learn and prepare but you are doing it. And not just getting it done but you are doing this! You are showing up for kids. You are leading your community through times that are making history and you are doing it by putting your heart first. You are taking the ideas of students and building on them, developing inquiries together and working as a team. You are actively engaging with students who are thrilled to connect with their friends and their teachers, and you are thrilled to connect with them too.

Thank you for your heartfelt leadership in these uncertain times. Thank you for being an adventurer, an explorer and for leading the way. Thank you for doing what is intensely difficult in service of others. Thank you for showing up for kids. It is perfect and exactly what is needed.

Author: Kathleen Robertson